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Chamber of Commerce Keeps Keystone Pipeline Debate Flowing

Protesters and counter-protesters at an Austin hearing on the Keystone Pipeline, in September 2011.
Photo by Teresa Vieira for KUT News
Protesters and counter-protesters at an Austin hearing on the Keystone Pipeline, in September 2011.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took aim at the Obama administration this morning, with a call for the president to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would end at the Texas Gulf Coast.

Chamber president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue claimed in his annual “State of American Business” address that “This project has passed every environmental test. There is no legitimate reason—none at all—to subject it to further delay.”

But the National Resources Defense Council says the Chamber is waging a “disinformation campaign” on the pipeline’s behalf.

The pipeline, transporting Canadian shale oil all the way down to Texas, will “transport dirty Canadian oil through America's heartland – for delivery to China and other countries,” the NRDC writes in a statement attacking the Chamber’s push for the pipeline. “Rather than bringing us prosperity, it will leave us with a legacy of poisoned lands and waters. All for, at most, 100 permanent jobs?” Donahue claimed in his speech the Keystone pipeline would “put 20,000 Americans to work right away and up to 250,000 over the life of the project.”

This isn’t the first time that the number of jobs the Keystone project would create have been called into question. The 20,000 figure was previously refuted by a professor at Cornell University's Global Labor Institute. A State Department report tags the jobs created at 5,000 to 6,000, but only for the construction phase of the $13 billion pipeline. The Obama administration has postponed a decision on Keystone, only to have congressional Republicans attempt to force his hand by demanding a decision before the 2012 presidential election.

Nor is it the first time the Chamber and the Obama administration have clashed. The president’s cool relationship with the group was further strained after they dumped millions of dollars into the 2010 midterm elections, with the aim of defeating Democratic candidates.


Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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